Introduction to the Half-Day Fluke

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Last summer, we visited Kate’s family in New Jersey, where one of her nieces was getting married. The family is scattered mostly along the Highway 36 corridor, which runs east along the shore of Raritan and Sandy Hook bays. As you drive out toward Sandy Hook, you’ll see signs that say “Fluke” or “Half-Day Fluke,” with maybe a telephone number and reference to one of the shore towns. We’ve been going out along Highway 36 since the late ’80s, and I don’t remember seeing the fluke signs before, and I had no idea what the reference was (As opposed to the signs for Bahr’s, a seafood-and-beer place right at the bridge over the Navesink River; we took note of those a few years ago and try to go out there every time we visit).

A fluke, it turns out, is something like a flounder (one nickname for it is “doormat,” for its flounder-esque habit of lying flat on the sea floor). And a half-day fluke is a half-day fishing trip to catch one. You can also sign on for a three-quarter day fluke. According to a sign at one of the harbors we visited, Atlantic Highlands, the limit is eight fluke, minimum 18 inches long. The catch isn’t the only thing that’s regulated in the fluke fleet. A sign on the gangway to one boat read, “You are permitted 4 cans of beer per person. Absolutely no drinking permitted prior to departure. Strictly enforced.”

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